Press Release: Colorado Employment Situation – March 2021

Hide Featured Image

For Immediate Release

Date: April 16, 2021 / 8:00 A.M.
Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations

Colorado Employment Situation – March 2021
6,600 Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Added in March; Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 6.4%

March Employment Situation Charts

Household survey data
According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was flat in March, matching the revised February rate of 6.4 percent. During the same period, the national unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.0 percent.

Other highlights from the household survey:

  • Colorado’s labor force grew by 5,800 in March to 3,188,500. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force in March remained steady at 68.5 percent and slightly lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 68.7 percent.

    The number of individuals employed in Colorado increased by 5,100 in March to 2,983,200, which represents 64.1 percent of the state’s 16+ population. While Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio continues to improve since April 2020, when it was 57.0 percent, it is still well below the pre-pandemic level of 66.8 percent.

    The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in March were: Huerfano (9.8%), Las Animas (8.9%), Pueblo (8.7%), Fremont (8.4%), and Rio Grande (7.7%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s March unadjusted rate of 6.5 percent.

March Employment Situation - Labor Force Participation Graphic
March Employment Situation - Number of Individuals Employed and 5 Highest Counties Graphic

Establishment survey data 

Employers in Colorado added 6,600 nonfarm payroll jobs from February to March for a total of 2,672,800 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 5,800 and government added 800 jobs. Since May, Colorado has gained back 229,600 of the 375,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April of last year. That translates to a job recovery rate of 61.1 percent, which slightly lags the U.S. rate of 62.4 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey: 

  • February estimates were revised up to 2,666,200, and the over the month change from January to February was a gain of 9,100 rather than the originally estimated increase of 5,200 (monthly revisions are based on additional responses from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates).

  • Private industry sectors with significant job gains in March were: professional and business services (~3,300), trade, transportation, and utilities (~1,300), education and health services (~1,100), and other services (~1,000). Significant over the month private sector job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality (~1,100).

  • Since March 2020, nonfarm payroll jobs have decreased 133,900, with losses totaling 107,800 in the private sector and 26,100 in government. The largest private sector job losses were in leisure and hospitality (~61,900), education and health services (~10,300), and professional and business services (~7,900). During that same period, trade, transportation, and utilities added jobs (~4,900). Colorado’s rate of job loss over the past year is -4.8 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of -4.5 percent.

  • Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 33.4 to 33.0 hours, while average hourly earnings rose from $31.01 to $31.30, approximately a dollar and thirty cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $29.96


All Colorado estimates from the establishment and household surveys, including greater geographic detail, are available at: Estimates for all states and the nation are available at:

The April 2021 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Friday, May 21, 2021. The full schedule of release dates for calendar year 2021 estimates is available at


Technical Notes 

This release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for March 2021, the most current estimates available from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The reference period for the establishment and household surveys was the pay period or week that includes the 12th of the month. Therefore, this release provides an estimate of Colorado’s employment situation during a continuation of the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases across the state, which resulted in loosening restrictions for many establishments. For Colorado unemployment insurance claims activity and related statistics, visit For information regarding impacts to Bureau of Labor Statistics data collection and processing during the pandemic, go to

The unemployment rate, labor force, labor force participation, total employment and the number of unemployed are based on a survey of households. The total employment estimate derived from this survey is intended to measure the number of people employed.

Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates are based on a survey of business establishments and government agencies, and are intended to measure the number of jobs, not the number of people employed. Other series based on this survey include private sector average weekly hours, average hourly earnings and average weekly earnings.

The business establishment survey covers about seven times the number of households surveyed and is therefore considered a more reliable indicator of economic conditions. Because the estimates are based on two separate surveys, one measuring jobs by worksite and the other measuring persons employed and unemployed by household, estimates based on these surveys may provide seemingly conflicting results.


Supplemental Information | Labor Force Summary March 2021 | City Report March 2021
County Report March 2021 | March 2021 Press Release